A CIESE Realtime Data Project

Gulf Stream Voyage



When investigating the productivity of the ocean, it is necessary to look at the first link in the ocean food chain, single-celled plants called phytoplankton. These primary producers contain the pigment chlorophyll and require sunlight, nutrients, carbon dioxide and water to continue the process of photosynthesis and respiration.  In order to determine ocean productivity, we can use chlorophyll a as an indicator.

 6                     6             solar energy              1                  6
molecules + molecules -------------------> molecule + molecules      (Photosynthesis)
carbon           water           chlorophyll            sugar        oxygen

     1               6                              6                 6               life
molecule + molecules --------> molecules + molecules + support     (Respiration)
  sugar         oxygen                    carbon          water         energy

1.  Open another browser window and explore the SeaWiFS Browser (chlorophyll concentration maps). 
2.  Use the table of links below the global map image to select the current year and month.  This will give you averaged results for an entire month's data. If you are at the beginning of a month, you may choose the previous month's data for a better image.

3.  Click on the rainbow box in the top left side toolbar of the page to answer the questions on the Student Worksheet.

4.  Open another browser window and compare the recent chlorophyll concentration maps with current sea surface temperature maps.

5.  To see changes in ocean productivity throughout the year, use the archived images on the SeaWiFS browser and click through the monthly images over the course of one year.

6.  Concentrate looking at the polar regions and the North Atlantic basin and answer the questions on the Student Worksheet.